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Dog Behavior Seminars: Fear, Dog-Dog Play, Separation Anxiety

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

Two dogs play bowing to each other

I really love presenting seminars. Spreading education about positive, gentle training methods, helping people to help their dogs, teaching trainers how to better help clients’ dogs, and meeting new people—it’s truly a joy. Okay, the traveling part, not so much…but once I’m there, it’s great.

That’s why I’m so excited that, in addition to my popular “Working with Fearful Dogs” seminar, I’ll be rolling out a brand new full-day seminar this year. “Two Timely Topics: Separation Anxiety & Dog-Dog Play” features completely new material. Attendees at the San Diego APDT conference heard a bit of the separation anxiety seminar, but there’s even more information included in the ½ day presentation. For example, how owners can use technology (such as Skype, or ready-made products such as VueZone or Dropcam) to monitor how their dogs are coping, or how natural alternatives to pharmacological intervention can be helpful in many cases. Busting old myths about separation anxiety is gratifying, and the seminar is filled with tricks and tips that will surely help owners and trainers alike.

NOTE: These three seminars are now available on DVD. Click the title to go directly to the Shop page: Working with Fearful Dogs, Dissecting the Dynamics of Dog-Dog Play, and Separation Anxiety: Both Sides Now.

Preparing for the dog-dog play seminar was much more time-consuming than any project I’ve put together in the past, largely due to the time spent videotaping and editing. (I guess in this digital age I need to stop saying, “videotaping,” but you get my meaning.) In addition to including footage from outside sources, I spent hours and hours at dog parks videotaping dogs playing. I started out having certain types of behaviors I wanted to capture in mind, but soon found even more interesting interactions to film–for example, instances when a play bow didn’t really mean “let’s play” or an owner completely misunderstood their dog’s behavior. The thing that surprised me most while reviewing the footage were the instances where I’d come across something I’d completely missed during the shoot. It’s hard to focus on so many things at once, particularly when you’re filming running dogs, and the camera captured things my eyes didn’t.

There have been some very informative studies done in the last few years about dog-dog play. Some have focused on puppies, and some on adult dogs. The research covers topics such as preferences in playmates as far as gender and familiarity, who instigates play, whether the 50/50 rule (play should be “fair” as far as give and take) applies, and a lot more. There are some fascinating conclusions, and seminar attendees will hear about them in between watching videos. One thing I can guarantee is that watching the footage—particularly the many parts I’ve slow-mo’d down—will improve your own skills at assessing canine interactions and body language.

My “2012 Tour” (hah—touring never happened when I played bass guitar, but I guess it’s never too late) begins soon, and the new seminar is included in many of the dates. The fun starts in April with a weekend seminar in New Jersey. I’ll be in Missouri in May, and then in June, first Murphy, NC and then much closer to home in Burbank, CA. In August it’s Toledo, OH and Lawrenceville, GA, followed by dates in Seattle, WA in September and New Orleans, LA in October. I hope to see a lot of you on the road. Be sure to come up and say hello!


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